Dementia patients are regularly prescribed anti-psychotic drugs in order to control their behaviour - but this week America's drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has finally warned doctors to stop the practice.
Several studies have found that this 'off-label' prescribing - where drugs are used to treat diseases for which they were not originally intended - has resulted in the deaths of patients.
Using new powers, the FDA has instructed the manufacturers of 'conventional and 'atypical' antipsychotics to change their prescribing instructions so that dementia patients no longer get the drugs.
Drugs that are affected include Risperdal (risperidone), Seroquel (quetiapine), Zyprexa (olanzapine), and Thorazine (chlorpromazine).
(Source: FDA website; http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2008/NEW01851.html)